LEGENDARY Doncaster Rugby League coach John Sheridan passed away this week at his Castleford home. The Rugby Fooball League’s media manager rang me yesterday afternoon to tell me the sad news.
John had been the Castleford No 2 for many years before taking over as team manager in 1984 when the Dons were still one of the game’s also rans.
I remember being at his first training session at the club’s Tattersfield base where just eight players were in attendance. Although having to operate on a shoestring budget, Sheridan managed to assemble the best team the club had had in years by persuading players languishing in the reserve teams of bigger clubs such as former Castleford half-backs Geoff Morris, Ian Birkby and Kevin Jones, Doncaster-born Mark Roache and Audley Pennant and Bradford full-back John Green, to throw in their lot with the unfashionable South Yorkshire club.
He also gave a chance to local amateurs Mark Gibbon, Alan Carr, the late Kevin Parkhouse and John Evans as well as raiding the local rugby union ranks to bring Wheatley Hills RFC winger Neil Turner to the club.
A master tactician who took great pride in the club’s successes such as the shock Challenge Cup win over mighty Hull KR in the mid-80s, John was a modest down-to-earth character and one of life’s gentlemen who lived for the sport. He was like a father figure to the players.
He also had a dry sense of humour and the former Castleford forward was a pleasure to work with. An active member of the Castleford ex-Players’ Association until his death, John will always have a special place in the hearts of all Doncaster supporters.
Doncaster Rovers slumped to a second successive home defeat against in-form Bournemouth at the Keepmoat Stadium as the Cherries stretched their unbeaten record since manager Eddie Howe quit Burnley last month to rejoin the club who gave him his first break in management back in 2009.
I was quite impressed by the Cherries and wouldn’t be surprised to see them battling for honours come next April.
For whatever reason, Rovers still can’t to get it consistently right at home this season and but for their excellent form on the road they would be significantly lower than the ninth spot they currently occupy.
It was a better performance than against Crewe in midweek with Preston loanee Iain Hume showing just why manager Dean Saunders is so keen to make the move permanent in January.
I was also impressed by midfielder Sammy Clingan on his League One starting debut for the club. A target for the club during Dave Penney’s time in charge, the Northern Ireland international is only on a short-term deal but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Saunders look to extend his stay at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Although as journalists are supposed to be impartial, I must admit that I felt sorry for Doncaster Knights’ boss Brett Davey after seeing his side pipped 22-21 by third-placed Bedford Blues last Friday at Castle Parrk by the last kick of the game.
Rovers juniors suffered a second successive cup defeat, going down to a 2-1 defeat at home to Gateshead in Wednesday’s FA Youth Cup second round tie.
Several players impressed me in the first half, particularly Evan Finnegan, and led 1-0 at the break. But they lost their way in the second.